By Joel Hollingsworth
The game against that red team hurt, but it didn't change a single thing. The Vols are 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. With the exception of South Alabama, Tennessee has dominated the opponents it was merely supposed to beat (Austin-Peay, Western Kentucky). They upset Steve Spurrier and 11th-ranked South Carolina. Yeah, we were seriously overmatched against teams ranked #1 and #2 in the country, and we lost early to #19. But we played #6 to overtime and could have easily won that if not for a fluky play and a dumb rule. If there's a case to be made from all of that that UT can play with teams ranked in the 10-25 range of the national polls, we'll have two chances to prove it over the next two weeks against #9 Missouri and #11 Auburn, and we can lose both of those games and still have the preseason goal of bowl eligibility on the table with games remaining against unranked Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Look. It's November, and the season's not lost. Alabama changed nothing. We're still the same team we were this time last week.
Here's what our future opponents did this weekend and how it impacts our outlook for the remainder of the season.
- Week1: Beat the Murray St. Racers (zoom!), 58-14.
- Week 2: Beat Toledo (poor Toledo), 38-23.
- Week 3: Off. What's with everyone taking a break almost as soon as the season begins?
- Week 4: Beat Indiana, 45-28.
- Week 5: Beat Arkansas State, 41-19. Play an SEC game already, won't you, Missouri?
- Week 6: Beat Vandy, 51-28.
- Week 7: Beat Georgia, 41-26.
- Week 8: Beat Florida, 36-17.
- Week 9: Lost in overtime to South Carolina, 27-24.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: A LITTLE BUT NOT ENOUGH BETTER. No disrespect to Missouri, who's put together a really nice SEC resume, but I feel like my team can beat yours when you lose to the same team we beat the week before. That it went down in an emotionally devastating manner helps, too. But there are a couple of things holding me back from changing this back to a win: It's on the road; our win over SC seems a bit more like a one-off than their more consistent resume at this point; and their numbers/rankings are still better. So I'm putting this in a category of the Gamecocks game. Not picking us to win, but it is ripe for an upset. LOSS.
- Week 1: Beat Washington State, 31-24.
- Week 2: Beat the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 38-9.
- Week 3: Beat Mississippi State, 24-20.
- Week 4: Lost to LSU, 35-21. Does anyone else find it simply astonishing that Les Miles string more players into a team than he can words into a coherent sentence? I know that's not breaking news or anything, but he somehow continues to reach new heights of huh. Anyway . . .
- Week 5: Off.
- Week 6: Beat Ole Miss, 30-22.
- Week 7: Beat Western Carolina, 62-3.
- Week 8: Beat Texas A&M, 45-41.
- Week 9: Beat FAU, 45-10. Ouch. Typing that score hurt for some reason.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME. LOSS, but yet another opportunity for an upset. I don't feel as good about the possibility in this one for some reason, though. I think it has something to do with Gus Malzahn.
- Week 1: Lost to Ole Miss, 39-35.
- Week 2: Beat Austin-Peay, 38-3.
- Week 3: Lost to South Carolina, 35-25.
- Week 4: Beat UMass, 24-7.
- Week 5: Beat UAB, 52-24.
- Week 6: Lost to Missouri, 51-28.
- Week 7: Off.
- Week 8: Beat Georgia, 31-27.
- Week 9: Lost to Texas A&M, 56-24.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME. WIN. As I said last week, the Georgia team Vanderbilt recently beat is not the same Georgia team Tennessee played to overtime. Still a WIN for the Vols.
- Week 1: Lost to Western Kentucky, 35-26.
- Week 2: Beat Miami of Ohio, 41-7.
- Week 3: Lost to Louisville, 27-13.
- Week 4: Off.
- Week 5: Lost to Florida, 24-7.
- Week 6: Lost to South Carolina, 35-28.
- Week 7: Lost to Alabama, 48-7.
- Week 8: Off.
- Week 9: Lost to Mississippi State, 28-22.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME. WIN. Don't laugh, but I think these guys are better than their 1-6 record suggests, so Tennessee can't afford to overlook them. But still, if the Vols are paying attention, this should be a win.
Conclusion after Week Nine
If you're still reeling from this weekend's punch to the face, shake off the stars and realize that this weekend changed nothing. We're on pace to achieve all of our preseason goals, plus we have two great opportunities the next two weeks to achieve more than we thought we could. My personal prediction right now is still two games different from my preseason prediction thanks to Missouri and Auburn (and yet really only one game different because of the unexpected win over South Carolina). I'm guessing 6-6 with remaining losses to Missouri and Auburn (but with real opportunities for upsets in these games) and wins over Vandy and Kentucky.
|Opponent||Preseason Prediction||Revised Prediction||Result|
|South Carolina||L||L (but W)||W|